These anxious, uncertain times are clearly reflected in our 2012 State of the CIO research. The results from this time last year seem giddy in retrospect, with our annual research findings meriting a headline that shouted out \u201cEnergizing Business.\u201d\n \n This year\u2019s report is more somber (see \u201cCIOs Disconnected From Business Execs\u201d), drawing attention to some mismatched key priorities between IT and \u00adbusiness leaders on cost-cutting and competition. In addition to doing our own comprehensive survey of 596 CIOs and senior IT executives, we joined forces with Forrester Research so we could compare our results with the top priorities identified by 377 non-IT executives and another 386 North American CIOs.\n \n Considering how much attention CIOs pay to IT that delivers genuine, measurable, strategic business value, it\u2019s startling to see large gaps in opinion on concerns as fundamental as cost-cutting and competitive focus. While 84 percent of business leaders ranked cost-cutting as a critical priority, only 37 percent of CIOs did. A similar chasm turned up on competitive focus.\n \n So what\u2019s the big deal with a few differences of opinion? \u201cIf you don\u2019t think the same way about money and competition, how can you align with\u2014never mind accelerate or help set\u2014business goals?\u201d writes Senior Editor Kim S. Nash. \u201cWell, you can\u2019t.\u201d\n \n Such misalignments can lead to IT projects that don\u2019t produce the results business units are looking for, notes CIO Nancy Wolk of Alcoa, who uses a simple test to sanity-check IT activities. \u201cWe think of everything we do in terms of, \u2018Does it help us grow or help us generate cash?\u2019\u201d\n \n Our story delves into a number of creative ways CIOs are dispelling doubts about IT\u2019s impact on business goals. We gathered up strategies from CIOs at Facebook, Maple Leaf Foods, Allergan, Restaurant Technologies, Ogilvy and Mather, ITT, Alcoa and Caesar\u2019s Entertainment. We found bright spots that offset the gloom of some of the research findings as well.\n \n It\u2019s easy to forget how slow the pace of evolution can feel when you\u2019re watching the IT-business relationship mature. But the ultimate direction is crystal clear to every CIO we know. \u201cWe need to be in lockstep,\u201d says CIO Karla Viglasky of ITT. \u201cYou can\u2019t gain credibility with the business by saying, \u2018I need to help you understand what I do.\u201d They don\u2019t care. Instead, you prove yourself every single day.\u201d\n \n Make today one of those days.\n Maryfran Johnson is the editor in chief of CIO Magazine & Events. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.